Sunday, 6 January 2013

How to restore old hatchets. Part 1 - The head

Through last year while working at various places and with the odd purchase or trade, I acquired quite a few axes to restore for teaching carving. 
They are mainly Kent patterns of various or non stamped/eroded makes and around 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 LB. I decided to do eight of them this time and making do with another four for now that require less work.

I'll take you through the re-shaping, cleaning and sharpening of the Hatchet heads.
I'm sure this is old hat to most but hopefully its of use or interest to some. 

I take a quick, cheap, and basic approach to this sort of work, but I like to do a decent job as they have to perform well on the day in someone else's hands. Sorry about the pictures though the lights either very on or off in the workshop.

The Sandvik and Stubs Farmers files with a course and medium face on each one. They cut beautifully and fast and once they are blunt I will forge them into knives as they are very good quality tool steel. 

First off, get the head in the vice edge upwards and file out all the nicks and damage from the cutting edge. This always feels wrong even on a heavily damaged example, but its very important to make a clean central area which the bevels can blend into.

Next off its time to sort those bevels out, a block underneath helps a lot with support. You can get most of the rust etc. off with the wire bush too at this stage. As there for carving I do an almost flat long shallow bevel on the LHS and a more acute convex on the the RHS as I'm looking at it when in final use. 

Clean out any burrs and debris from the eye with half round and smaller types of files if necessary, and a small wire brush too.

A quick run across a medium/fine grit slack belt on a grinder helps to finish the job, but mouse-mat blocks and emery paper work just as well.

Sharpening kit. Combination whetstone, broken half of a medium stone and various home made strops of various grits.

As the last stage was quite smooth I tend to go straight to the broken stone, taking the stone to the head using a circular motion and water.

Stropping across an old fence post with a very old belt containing stropping paste. This is important due to the previous formation of a wire edge. Use the stones again if you are struggling then return to this stage.

All done, this is the longer flatter bevel

 And the other side with shorter more convexed bevel. A drop of oil and a wipe to finish.

Three done so far so Five more to go, then I'll write Part 2 on carving and fitting the helves from some Ash that I felled several weeks ago during some thinning work.

Edit - All heads finished, just waiting on the Ash to dry now

Part 2 - Carving the helves

Part3 - Fitting the helves